Spanish researchers have identified the gene that protects baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) from freezing.

Commercial bread dough is often stored frozen, but this process often kills yeast cells and the dough has difficulties rising when it is thawed. By looking at the genes that appearing to be turned on when the yeast reached sub-freezing temperatures, the scientists isolated ERG10 as the gene which protects the yeast from freezing.

"Consequently, the improvement of the freeze tolerance in baker¹s yeast is of significant commercial importance," said S. Rodriguez-Vargas, F. Estruch and F. Randez Gil as they reported their findings in the June 2002 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

The scientists added that their findings could "open up the possibility of design strategies to improve the freeze tolerance of baker's yeast".